This post contains affiliate links. All information in this post is based on my personal experiences and research. Please discuss any changes to your diet with your doctor or nutritionist. No information in this article is meant to replace medical advice. Please read the disclosures and disclaimers. Thank you!
The human body is truly amazing. Approximately 50,000 cells in your body will die and be replaced with new cells during the time it takes you to read this sentence. We make a new skeleton every three months and a new layer of skin every month.
Our bodies perform these operations to the best of their abilities with the food, exercise and stress choices that we make. But our bodies also attempt to let us know what we’re doing wrong in the form of “dis-ease”. If you have digestive issues, you might have a gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and wheat is found in A LOT of processed food here in the US. It’s what makes pizza and bread and cake so chewy and delicious!
But when I think about wheat, I think about how all this chewy deliciousness must be hard for your body to digest. Have you ever tried to clean dried on pizza dough out of a bowl? It takes hot water, soap and lots of scrubbing. You can literally make glue from wheat flour and water! Well, some people’s bodies have had enough and started fighting back by reacting to gluten. Symptoms of gluten intolerance range from mild annoyances to severe pain, especially if you are diagnosed with Celiac disease.
Some common gluten intolerance and Celiac symptoms are:
Headaches & Migraines
Allergic shiners (dark circles under your eyes)
Depression or Anxiety
And in really bad cases, hallucinations
If you have a lot of these symptoms, you may want to get tested for Celiac disease, an “autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.” A doctor can order a blood test to check your levels of IgA-tTG and then to confirm Celiac, an endoscopy is recommended to see if there is inflammation or damage in your small intestines. If you’d like to go this route, then you will need to stay on a gluten containing diet so that the results are accurate.
Another method of testing yourself at home is through a hair strand test like this one. They test 10-15 hair strands for over 650 food and environmental items. I don’t have personal experience with this yet, but it out of 72 reviews, 67% were 5 stars! This would be an option if you are already experimenting with a gluten free lifestyle.
The easiest way is to simply experiment. The way that I found out that me and gluten needed a break was from going gluten free for just 2 weeks. After I added back gluten into my diet, I noticed night sweats every time I ate pasta. I took wheat pasta out of my diet, and slowly became more sensitive to less amounts of gluten. Once I started seeing the benefits of less bloating and my eczema clearing up, it was clear to know this is the way I should be eating. Of course, every body is different – just see what you notice!
Click here for a list of over 200 gluten free foods. If you have symptoms of gluten intolerance, start incorporating more of these foods into your lifestyle while you’re deciding how you want to proceed in getting tested.
Difference between Celiac disease and Gluten Intolerance
If you are diagnosed with Celiac disease, you most likely have intestinal damage and will need to help your body heal. The best way to do this is to completely eliminate gluten from your lifestyle. This will stop any further damage, and you can increase your consumption of homemade bone broths in order to help your intestines heal. It will take a lot of adjustment, but it’s necessary. Otherwise, the symptoms will stick around and possibly increase in severity.
Gluten intolerance can also be serious, but is defined more as a stress response, and a mistaken one at that. Just like most allergies, the body thinks that a food is dangerous and it reacts (or overreacts) to protect itself. Again, it’s best to eliminate gluten and let your body “reset”.
Who Can Be Gluten Intolerant
Anyone can have gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, and it can be diagnosed at any age. I was in my 30’s, my daughter was 6, and my nephew had a blood test confirm that he has Celiac at age 1.
Since Celiac is usually genetically predisposed, they do recommend that if a family member has Celiac, you may want to be tested as well if you’re having unexplainable symptoms.
Why are More People Becoming Gluten Intolerant?
According to Verywellhealth.com, 1 in 133 people has celiac disease, which comes out to about 2.4 million people in the US. If you have a relative with celiac, then you probably have a 1 in 22 chance of having celiac as well.
Most people haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac disease, though. Doctors aren’t required to take any nutrition courses in 80% of the med schools in the US. When our journey first started, doctors told me that kids need wheat in their diet and seemed highly offended that I wasn’t feeding it to my daughter. Looking at her now, she clearly does better without it!
But why is this happening now? People have eaten wheat for thousands of years!
In the book Wheat Belly, author William Davis calls out the agricultural scientists. Wheat has been hybridized to yield more per acre – about 10 times more than just 100 years ago! As scientists hybridized wheat to make it produce more, it became too heavy for a tall stalk. So, they also hybridized it to have shorter amount of growth. Our amber waves of grain that used to be 4 ½ feet tall are now just 18” tall.
My common sense tells me that this Frankenwheat is probably not something I want to be ingesting and probably having some sort of effect on people collectively.
In conclusion, if you are experiencing some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance, and especially if Celiac disease runs in your family, you should probably ask your doctor for a blood test. If you try the hair strand DNA test, please leave a comment below to let me know how it worked out! Or, feel free to experiment, just like I did!